Predicament Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 38 quotes )
As more and more norms disappear from social praxis, literature faces ever-growing difficulties. Its predicament is beginning to resemble that of a child who has discovered that his incredibly understanding parents will let him break with impunity all his toys, indeed everything in the house. The artist cannot create specific prohibitions for himself in order to attack them later in his work; the prohibitions must be real, and hence independent of the writer's choices. And since the relativization of cultural norms has not so far been able to disturb the given characteristics of human biology, that is where writers today seek the still perceptible points of resistance--which is why literature is preoccupied with the theme of sex.
The question we need to ask ourselves is whether there is any place we can stand in ourselves where we can look at all that's happening around us without freaking out, where we can be quiet enough to hear our predicament, and where we can begin to find ways of acting that are at least not contributing to further destabilization.
Under the discipline of unity, knowledge and morality come together. No longer can we have that paltry 'objective' knowledge so prized by the academic specialists. To know anything at all becomes a moral predicament. Aware that there is no such thing as a specialized effect, one becomes responsible for judgments as well as facts. Aware that as an agricultural scientist he had 'one great subject,' Sir Albert Howard could no longer ask, What can I do with what I know? without at the same time asking, How can I be responsible for what I know?
The simple fact is that we live in a world of conflict and opposites because we live in a world of boundaries. Since every boundary line is also a battle line, here is the human predicament: the firmer one’s boundaries, the more entrenched are one’s battles. The more I hold onto pleasure, the more I necessarily fear pain. The more I pursue goodness, the more I am obsessed with evil. The more I seek success, the more I must dread failure. The harder I cling to life, the more terrifying death becomes. The more I value anything, the more obsessed I become with its loss. Most of our problems, in other words, are problems of boundaries and the opposites they create.
My aim is not to provide excuses for black behavior or to absolve blacks of personal responsibility. But when the new black conservatives accent black behavior and responsibility in such a way that the cultural realities of black people are ignored, they are playing a deceptive and dangerous intellectual game with the lives and fortunes of disadvantaged people. We indeed must criticize and condemn immoral acts of black people, but we must do so cognizant of the circumstances into which people are born and under which they live. By overlooking these circumstances, the new black conservatives fall into the trap of blaming black poor people for their predicament. It is imperative to steer a course between the Scylla of environmental determinism and the Charybdis of a blaming-the-victims perspective.
How does the saying go? When two locusts fight, it is always the crow that feasts.' Is that a Luo expression?' I asked. Sayid's face broke into a bashful smile. We have a similar expression in Luo,' he said, 'but actually I must admit that I read this particular expression in a book by Chinua Achebe. The Nigerian writer. I like his books very much. He speaks the truth about Africa's predicament. the Nigerian, the Kenya - it is the same. We share more than divides us.
I, Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus This-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with all my titles) who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and relatives and associates as "Claudius the Idiot", or "That Claudius", or "Claudius the Stammerer", or "Clau-Clau-Claudius" or at best as "Poor Uncle Claudius", am now about to write this strange history of my life; starting from my earliest childhood and continuing year by year until I reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, at the age of fifty-one, I suddenly found myself caught in what I may call the "golden predicament" from which I have never since become disentangled.
Our language has wisely sensed these two sides of man’s being alone. It has created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone. Although, in daily life, we do not always distinguish these words, we should do so consistently and thus deepen our understanding of our human predicament.
If you don't get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don't want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can't hold on to it forever. Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change. Free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death. But change is law and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.
I believe consciousness is brazenly physical, a raucous mirage the brain creates to help us survive. But I also sense the universe is magical, greater than the sum of its parts, which I don't attribute to a governing god, but simply to the surprising, ecstatic, frightening everyday reality we all know. Ultimately, I find consciousness a fascinating predicament for matter to get into.
I grant we should add a third category: that of the true healers. But it is a fact one doesn't come across many of them, and anyhow it must be a hard vocation. That's why I decided to take, in every predicament, the victim's side, so as to reduce the damage done. Among them I can at least try to discover how on attains to the third category; in other words, to peace.
I believe that the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms on the grasslands of Africa gave us the model for all religions to follow. And when, after long centuries of slow forgetting, migration, and climatic change, the knowledge of the mystery was finally lost, we in our anguish traded partnership for dominance, traded harmony with nature for rape of nature, traded poetry for the sophistry of science. In short, we traded our birthright as partners in the drama of the living mind of the planet for the broken pot shards of history, warfare, neurosis, and-if we do not quickly awaken to our predicament-planetary catastrophe.
The possible redemption from the predicament of irreversibilityof being unable to undo what one has doneis the faculty of forgiving. The remedy for unpredictability, for the chaotic uncertainty of the future, is contained in the faculty to make and keep promises. Both faculties depend upon plurality, on the presence and acting of others, for no man can forgive himself and no one can be bound by a promise made only to himself.
Today Americans, who used to feel welcomed wherever we went, travel abroad with trepidation. We know we are not trusted or liked, that we are even hated, by millions of people around the globe. We must ask ourselves why this is so and do the work of discovering our historical behavior toward the other countries and peoples of the planet. As disturbing as this will be, it is a first step toward a peaceful existence. Not because we can make peace for our country, but because we can make peace without ourselves by changing any harmful behavior or attitudes that contribute to our present predicament. Choose any country on the map that appears to hate America. Listen to what people are shouting at their rallies and read what their banners proclaim in the street. Sit with their anger until you can see America through their eyes... Remember that you, yourself, are America. The U.S. Behave as if you are the entire country and carry yourself with humility and dignity.